Learning ‘how to run a business’

Students building skills in school store

New Ulm High School Business Education teacher Theresa Mosher (left) looks around the store and directs senior student employees Ian Kittleson, Braxton Konakowitg, and Tyler Widmark (L-R). Managing inventory and making the store presentable are just two of the many responsibilities these students have.

NEW ULM — For 24 New Ulm High School students, their business education doesn’t stop after they leave the classroom.

During the lunch hour Tuesday through Thursday and at most indoor sporting events, students open the Eagle’s Nest school store and make their wares available to students and parents. Their main products are clothing, such as shirts, pants, hoodies, and hats. All of which are adorned with Eagles designs and screen-printed by students at the career technical education center.

The experience is part of an elective class taught by Business Education teacher Theresa Mosher. The experience began in 2018, and Mosher took over in 2020. She said the experience was different for the students when she started due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was still a valuable learning opportunity in different ways.

“We had to limit the number of customers in the store at one time,” Mosher said. “We decided to do more online advertising, ordering, and marketing for the customer.”

Now there are several different departments students can choose from when they begin the class. Finance, marketing, sales, and cleaners are some of the positions students can work in. Students also sign up for when they run the storefront. Mosher said each of these roles gives students valuable business skills, and they work with each other on projects within the program.

Seniors Ian Kittleson (left) and Tyler Widmark (right) swap out some display items to keep the rotation fresh. Widmark said he wants to start his own business someday, and this experience has been invaluable for this future pursuit

“Part of the curriculum is sales and marketing,” she said. “They do market surveys. They poll students and adults to see what type of product they’re looking at. We also stick with our base products and when something sells out real quickly, real fast, those are immediate reorders. Many things are brought in based on survey results.”

Having to work during a lunch period or after school isn’t the most desirable prospect for a high school student. Mosher said the most rewarding part of the program for her is when students become invested and enjoy their time.

“I like to see the students do the hands-on work,” she said. “It seems like when they first come in, it’s like ‘Oh, we might have to give up our lunch hour to work the store.’ Once they get started I hear them talking about how much fun they had or who came in to visit on their shift. They even work for the evening athletic events and I hear parents commenting and hearing them say they had fun.”

One of the seniors taking the class is Tyler Widmark. Like others in the class, he said he joined because running a business is currently in his plans.

“I signed up for the class because later in life I want to own my own business,” he said. “I wanted to learn how to run a business and what are some of the things you need to start up a business. The class has been really helpful for me.”

Widmark said their most popular products are their Nike hoodies and school supplies. When students forget a pencil or need a folder, the Eagle’s Nest has what they need. Classmate and fellow senior Braxton Konakowitg said a special sale they had during homecoming ended up being their most popular.

“We sold our old jerseys,” he said. “That was probably our busiest and most profitable day. [We made] about $400 in one day off those jerseys.”

It’s not all sunshine and sales. Widmark said the store isn’t as popular and profitable as he would like. Currently, the store only takes cash or check, not card. This is an issue Widmark said he would like to see resolved in the future.

“[We want it] where you can use your debit card, credit card, even Apple Pay,” he said. “A lot of kids want better and new designs. We’ve had the same things and if we get some more different products with different designs [that’d be great]”

Mosher said students are very involved in the decision-making process for how to better the store. She said any ideas students have need to be pitched and carried out by the students themselves.

As for the future of the program, Mosher is hopeful the class will continue to grow in popularity and expand. With more students, the store could be available Monday through Friday and open for every single indoor event. She listed the recent choir concert and school play as events they were not able to open for.

Outside of when they’re open, the Eagle’s Nest has an online shop people can purchase items from and pick up in the school office. For more information on the store and its products, visit https://sites.google.com/newulm.k12.mn.us/eagles-nest/home


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